My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
It’s the RSPB’s AGM tomorrow: the moment to celebrate what our charity has achieved over the past year, reflect on the challenges we face and also for members to ask us anything they like.
In the days running up to the AGM, I try to think of the possible questions that might come my way from cats to plastics, from fracking to windfarms. Most years, someone manages to spring a surprise and ask something that none of us expected. But that’s the prerogative of our members and it certainly keeps us all on our toes.
But I never complain about the time I spend preparing for the event. It’s an opportunity to remind myself what we have achieved and the incredible impact that we have as a charity.
This is particularly true in terms of the work we do on our nature reserves.
I had the pleasure this week of reading the early results from this year’s breeding season. While I can’t yet disclose all the figures as these are still being double-checked, I can give you a flavour of what happened across our 210 nature reserves covering more than 150,000 hectares across the UK. So here are ten highlights from this year’s breeding season.
Avocets at Exminster Marshes (Andy Hay, rspb-images.com)
Our team of staff and volunteers working across our reserve network deserve huge credit for the work they do for wildlife. Even where breeding success has been disappointing (sometimes for reasons outside of our control), I know that we are doing everything we can to try to understand the problems and get the right management in place.
I hope to see you and answer any question you may have at our AGM tomorrow in London. If you cannot make it, then I trust you have a good excuse and are out and about watching wildlife at one our incredible nature reserves.
Great "stuff" RSPB, thanks for all your very hard work over the year.